To the list of societal ills such as gangsta rap, Marilyn Manson and "South Park," you can now add Garfield.
Garfield, the pithy talking cat from the comic pages, has delighted children for decades with his ability to foil his master and wax philosophic or sarcastic about it.
Now, a Prince George's County school board member wants to shut him up.
Robert J. Callahan (Bowie) said that Garfield has gone too far with his sarcasm in a current line of school supplies being sold at the Wal-Mart in Bowie and other area stores.
Callahan is upset with the quotes attributed to the cat, such as "Study? I think not!," "If I don't know the answer, I'll make one up!" and "Don't worry, be stupid."
To Callahan, such comments are anything but the cat's meow.
"I know he's supposed to be sarcastic and rude, but it's not appropriate for kids and school supplies," Callahan said. "I'm not saying anything about censorship, it's about decency. Any parent who thinks it's okay to have a Garfield notebook displaying, 'Don't worry, be stupid' is putting their children in the wrong direction."
Callahan has asked Wal-Mart officials to remove the items from their shelves, and he sent an e-mail complaining about the products to the company responsible for them, Mead Office Products.
Mead spokeswoman Mary Potter said, "We try our best to make both our advertising and school supplies seem fun, so students of all grades and talents will want to stay in school and continue their education."
Callahan said that although his concerns over Garfield might seem trivial, he believes that children might take the wrong message from the cartoon cat.
"That's the first level of sarcasm," he said. "Next is 'Beavis and Butt-head' and then 'South Park.' Where does it stop? Doesn't this send an underlying message, that school is to be disrespected and taken lightly? And I think that contributes to violence."
"Garfield is a product of my generation," Callahan added. "I'm not against Garfield. But the material is not appropriate."
Thinking back to when he was in elementary school, the 34-year-old school board member said he remembers carrying Peanuts, Disney and Looney Tunes school supplies.
In those products, he said, "there was not one bit of anything but support for school."
The school board is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a proposal that would rescind a current school system guideline requiring that 10 percent of all money raised by student clubs and organizations go to the school's general fund, to be used by administrators for schoolwide resources.
Callahan co-sponsored the proposal with student member Mark Crusante, 17, a senior at Oxon Hill High.
Callahan said he thinks the students who raise the money should get to keep all of it.
The current system "has been abused by principals," Callahan said. "Student organizations do not get a say where that money goes. The students are the ones who do the work, and others benefit."
But supporters of the current system say the money helps principals buy equipment and supplies that benefit all students and teachers.
While schools were closed in every Washington area jurisdiction last Thursday because of Hurricane Floyd, most opened the next day when the sun reappeared. Not in Prince George's, however, where officials first announced that schools would begin two hours late, then canceled classes altogether.
Spokeswoman Jocelyn Harris said that Thursday night, 70 of the county's 185 schools did not have power. Although 40 of those regained power the next morning, officials were concerned about getting lunch and other services to the 30 that were still powerless. They decided to cancel classes system-wide instead of having one-sixth of the county's students at home while the rest returned to school.